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Pingree, Salazar Introduce Bicameral, Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen the Blue Economy and Support Coastal Communities

The Ocean Regional Opportunity and Innovation Act will help the U.S. develop new ocean-based industries and upgrade existing operations to promote economic growth and the sustainable use of our oceans for future generations

Today, U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) introduced legislation to strengthen coastal communities and the blue economy of Maine and the U.S. through technological research and development, job training, and cross-sector partnerships. The bipartisan Ocean Regional Opportunity and Innovation (Ocean ROI) Act, which was introduced in the Senate by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), would direct the Secretary of Commerce to establish “Ocean Innovation Clusters” and provide grants for their establishment, operation, and administration.

“Ocean clusters are at the center of innovation and entrepreneurship, and are key to building climate resilient, sustainable coastal economies. Now is the time for the federal government to invest in the Blue Economy so we can harness the great potential waters across the country like the Gulf of Maine,” said Rep. Pingree, who is a member of the House Oceans Caucus. “Together, Senators Murkowski and Cantwell and Congresswoman Salazar and I represent some of the nation’s most pristine and valuable coastline; we understand the tremendous impact oceans have on our communities, our economy, and our daily lives. With our bicameral and bipartisan Ocean Regional Opportunity and Innovation Act, the U.S. can realize the full potential and value of our blue economy.”

“Miami’s beautiful coasts and pristine waters provide Florida with billions in tourism and commerce every year, and I am committed to preserving them for generations to come,” said Rep. Salazar. “I am proud to introduce legislation to promote Miami’s development and improve our environment through the sustainable use of our oceans. The blue economy and the opportunities it provides are growing, and the United States must keep pace with investments made by the global community. There is no better place to invest the best we have in research and technology than right here in South Florida.”

“A strong blue economy will require strong coordination and creativity, and that’s why I’m leading this effort to invest in our ocean clusters and take advantage of the opportunities for innovation and collaboration,” said Sen. Murkowski, co-chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus. “This effort doesn’t just focus on the untapped economic potential of our blue economy, but also ensures that collaboration is at the center of any conversation or effort to address the impacts of climate change on our coastal communities. By providing incentives and workspaces for Alaskans in maritime and maritime-adjacent industries, we can achieve real progress in strengthening the blue economy.”

“From protecting orcas from vessel noise, to transitioning to a carbon free future for our ports and maritime industry, Washington’s ocean cluster, called Maritime Blue, is working hard to solve complex challenges facing our economy. This bill would build on their success by creating a new grant program to fund ocean innovation clusters and grow Washington’s 30 billion dollar maritime economy,” said Sen. Cantwell.

“There has never been a better time to invest in blue economy companies that embrace people, planet and profit as part of one mission,” said Patrick Arnold of the New England Ocean Cluster in Portland, Maine. “This is a great opportunity to accelerate the work being done in each region of the United States to create jobs in our coastal communities while introducing new products that fully utilize the renewable resources our oceans provide.”

Specifically, the Ocean ROI Act would require the Secretary of Commerce, acting through the administrator of the U.S. Economic Development Agency, and in consultation with the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to designate at least one ocean cluster in each of the five NOAA Fisheries regions, Gulf of Mexico region, and the Great Lakes region. The bill would also authorize $50 million for competitive grants for cluster establishment, operation, and administration to support ocean clusters on the federal level.

Pingree, who is Ranking Member of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, is a well-known leader for Congressional action on fighting climate change. She has sponsored and cosponsored dozens of bills to fight climate change, including several that are aimed specifically at protecting our oceans and coastline. Click here to learn more about Pingree’s efforts to fight climate change.


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